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April 2, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

In a launch that bore all the hallmarks of a traditional IBM panic announcement on a par with those of the 3081D – dead within 18 months, and the Personal AT – shipped in inadequate quantities way before it was ready, the company yesterday mapped its plans for the future of the Personal Computer family with the widely anticipated set of four machines just about held together by patched-up stop-gap operating software. Most evident feature of the announcement was that companies like Amstrad with the PC1512 and Compaq with the Deskpro 386 have little reason to suffer sleepless nights as they get to grips with the details of the kit.

First four Personal Systems spring no surprises

The details of Personal System/2 hardware announcement are almost exactly as we gave them in CI No 647 except that the model numbers read 30, 50, 60 and 80 rather than 30, 40, 50 and 60. The 8MHz 8086-based model 30 will ship in the UK later this month and costs UKP1,106 for the 16 by 15.6 by 4 high console with 640Kb CPU and two 720Kb 3.5 floppies. Screen and 102-key board are both separately priced. With 20Mb Winchester it costs UKP1,559. The keyboard is UKP171. The 10MHz 80286-based desk-top Model 50 with 1Mb, 1.44Mb floppy and 20Mb hard is UKP2,658, $3,595 in the US. The floor-standing variant, Model 60, is UKP2,886 – $5,295 – with 44Mb disk, UKP4,275 – $6,295 – with 70Mb disk. Both will be available here in July. The floor-standing 16MHz 80386-based Model 80 with 1Mb CPU and 44Mb disk is UKP4,727, $6,995 in US; with 2Mb and 70Mb disk it is UKP5,568, $8,495, those two models available in September, July in the US; with 20MHz CPU 2Mb and 115Mb disk it is UKP7,058, $10,995 in the US; and will be available in the fourth quarter. The models 50, 60 and 80 incorporate the Inmos International Colour Look-Up Table chip to put up 256 colours from a palette of 263,000. The machines are claimed to be much faster than existing offerings using the same chips by virtue of the Microchannel Architecture – a new bus that runs at up to 30MHz. Four displays are initially offered: the 8503 is a 12 white-on-black 640 by 480 pixel display with 64 shades of grey that costs UKP201. The 8512 is a 14 colour display putting up 640 by 480 pixels at UKP505, and the 8513 is a 12 display with the same resolution, putting up 88 pixels to the inch, at UKP583. All three are available this month. The 16 8514 is a 1,024 by 768 display due out here in September at UKP1,024.

New peripherals include write-once optical disk

Among the new peripherals IBM is offering for the Personal System/2 are, as anticipated, a 5 write-once optical disk drive. The 3363 Optical Disk Drive stores 200Mb, up to eight can be supported on the larger models, and it will be available in the third quarter at UKP2,314. There were no laser printers in the UK announcement: IBM simply added an even Quieter-writer 3 at UKP1,096, a Proprinter X24 24 pin 8 carriage model at UKP601 a wide-carriage XL24 version at UKP789. The faster, quieter ProPrinter 2 comes in at UKP417. In the US only, the Personal Pageprinter is a 300 by 300 dots per inch, six page per minute laser printer at $2,200, to be available in the third quarter.

No release dates given for SQL, communications in OS/2

The OS/2 operating system announcement turns out to be even more vaporous than we suggested yesterday, with the Standard Edition 1.0 version not available until the first quarter of next year, and all the features that users really want – the graphics-based presentation manager, the promised SQL-based database management system, SNA communications support given no release date at all: IBM simply says that announcements about these features, and delivery dates, will be announced only in the fourth quarter of this year. In the meantime, users are stuck with the 3.3 release of PC-DOS, which extends memory support to 16Mb, takes advantage of the high-speed bus of the new machines, and supports a Graphics Presentation Manager that is based on, but is not fully compatible with, Microsoft Windows.

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RT-compatible AIX is also


Although the 80386-based Model 80 is set to ship in the third quarter, it is not clear what software users are intended to run on it, because not only OS/2, but also the AIX implementation of Unix turns out to be vapourware, with no release date to be given till the fourth quarter. Described as a subset of AIX Unix on the Personal RT, AIX 386 will run PC-DOS 3.3 as a task and will support the RT VS Fortran, VS Pascal and C compilers.

UK prices trimmed, US prices slashed on XTs

The Personal System/2 announcement was accompanied by mainly modest price cuts in the UK – 4% on the XT 286 and AT, 25% on the original 8088-based XT. In the US, prices were slashed, with the Convertible off 15% at $1,700, and the XT 286 cut by 42% to a fire-sale $1,395.

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